Therapy For Soldiers: Its Importance And Challenges

Being a soldier entails being an example of discipline, courage, bravery, and strength. It is a great honor to your family and country. But protecting a nation is not a walk in the park. No one can deny the harsh reality that these men and women face out there on the field. 

They experience situations that no one can imagine. It affects them gravely to the point where they lose themselves. Sadly, the number of military personnel committing suicide is rising. The Veteran Administration is pushing to provide services, such as therapy and counsel, to help them with their mental health.

The Hardships Of Being A Soldier

The work of a soldier is demanding. The tedious training they go through to get into the armed forces is already a challenge. But the hardships they go through doubles the moment they are deployed. They encounter physical, mental, and social problems. And this can affect their overall well-being.

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They become susceptible to physical dangers, such as a hostile environment. Unfortunately, not all military men are stationed in relatively safe places. Some are brought to areas where harsh weather, chaos, and war are prominent. Wherever they are stationed, one of their duties and responsibilities is putting the safety of other people first. And this can cause injuries and other illnesses. 

Unfortunately, the cause of these physical injuries can be very traumatic. Soldiers tend to see things a regular civilian will never encounter. They lose their comrades, friends, and acquaintances. These concurrences affect their mental stability, causing them to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and anger management issues after deployment. 

Being away from their families does not help either. They lack physical contact and intimacy with their loved ones. As a result, they miss out on important events. Their deployment risks their relationships. They do not get to have the luxury of having a lot of breaks and their own “me time.” 

The physical dangers and challenges brought by the job already take a toll on a person. However, their mental health and social relationships are severely affecting them too. These mental and social challenges do not go away when they go back home. Soldiers carry these burdens even after retirement. Physical injuries may eventually heal, but other scars will serve as a reminder of what they endured. 

How Therapy Helps Soldiers

It is normal for people to seek treatment for their physical injuries. So people should consider going to therapists and counselors to help them with their mental health. Therapy and counseling help people identify and understand their negative thoughts and find coping mechanisms for them. 

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According to a study, some soldiers try to take their own lives because they want to stop the intense psychological distress they are experiencing. They believe that committing suicide is the way to end the pain and suffering. 

Therapy can relieve this pain and suffering for soldiers. Talking to someone can help them organize their thoughts, especially after a traumatic experience. It cannot be easy to process what happened. There are times wherein soldiers put aside their feelings and focus on work instead of their mental health. While this coping style could be effective for a short time, it is still not healthy in the long run. 

Keeping thoughts and emotions to yourself is a close-minded approach. By talking to a therapist, these thoughts and emotions are seen in a different light. Being open about your experience can help in having a healthy mind. 

But therapy does not only make soldiers talk. Therapists guide soldiers and look for ways to accept what happened, move on, and not dwell on the pain and suffering.

The Difficulties Of Seeking Counsel

Seeking counsel is not the same for soldiers and civilians. Additionally, opening up and talking to someone about what you’re going through is easier said than done. For soldiers, it is harder to talk about topics, such as what they saw on the field, how they feel after losing someone, etc. Unfortunately, some prefer not to seek help. 

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There is a stigma that hinders soldiers from seeking help. There are negative connotations aligned with mental health awareness. The expectation of being mentally tough as a soldier also makes it more difficult to open up. Soldiers are seen as resilient people who can handle tough situations. They are expected to recover faster and not let emotions affect them. 

Most soldiers, then, prefer to figure out their problems on their own. They may feel that their supervisors might not be supportive or understanding. They are also afraid that revealing these problems will affect their work, deeming them unfit for service. But there is nothing wrong with seeking help. 

For soldiers, it’s difficult to ask for help from someone who does not know what they are going through exactly. They feel like therapists are just consulting with them and using academic sources to treat them, not truly understanding their trauma. But remember, these therapists are professionally trained for these situations. The person’s well-being is their top priority.

Conclusion

Soldiers are some of the toughest people in the world. They endure both physical and mental challenges. But even the toughest ones can break down and need help. Soldiers must not only prioritize their physical health but also their mental health. Seeking help from a therapist, counselor, or even a friend is beneficial for anyone, more so for soldiers. 

However, it is not easy to seek help, let alone acknowledge that you need it. Soldiers are not known to ask for help as their mantra is to help others. Their experiences are so extreme that their response to the trauma is not easy to share. 

But remember, seeking help is not a problem. Letting your health deteriorate is. So do not hesitate to ask for help. Your well-being is of utmost importance. Let yourself be taken care of this time.

Why Therapy Is Essential For Families Of Veterans

Wars are horrific. They are unforgiving toward everyone involved, be it the soldiers, their families, and those caught in between. They also leave an unimaginable amount of damage in their wake. From people to properties, war spares nothing and no one from its destruction. Because of all this, soldiers and their loved ones suffer grave consequences.

Even after retirement, it can be challenging to have a family member who served in the military. For one, their time of service has left deep wounds on all parties involved. The veterans may have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Meanwhile, you or other family members may be experiencing other conditions from the stress of their careers.

You or the veteran in your family may be overwhelmed by the lingering effects of their time of service. Or you may be wondering why you would need therapy if you don’t feel like anything is wrong at all. Whichever the case, seeing a therapist will prove beneficial to ensure the well-being of your whole family. After all, your struggles don’t instantly vanish when your relative completes their service.

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To Get Mental And Emotional Support

Stress and worries always come with someone in your family serving in the military. Unfortunately, the effects of these crippling emotions may stay even after their retirement. And it’s not easy to move forward from that kind of experience. After all, you must have spent so much time worrying about their safety. You must have been worried sick waiting for their response since they can’t maintain constant communication.

These factors may take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Because of that, you’ll benefit from receiving professional help. A therapist can aid you in processing the distress you’ve experienced when your family member was still serving. They’ll be there to talk to you regarding your thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Your experience is something the general population could have a hard time understanding. And this may cause you to feel isolated at times. But if there’s someone who could help you, that would be your therapist.

You can relay your worries and concerns to them, and they’ll assist you in sorting through these healthily. At times, you may feel overwhelmed or overcome with grief, but remember that your therapist will be with you the entire way. No one has to be alone on a journey such as yours. Let your therapist help you with your situation now, the same way your family member has served and aided the nation before.

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To Address Mental Health Conditions

Family members of military personnel are more prone to depression and other mental health concerns. Their unique experiences make you more likely to develop these conditions compared with other civilians. Prolonged separation from military loved ones and constant worrying over their safety usually cause these symptoms to manifest. And these conditions don’t just disappear after they retire from military work.

Some of these conditions include depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation and hopelessness, and even thoughts of ending your existence. It’s difficult to battle these thoughts, but know that your therapist will be there for you. It’s easier said than done, but there are ways you could move forward from these. You’re not alone in your fight, and therapy can aid you in your journey to win over these conditions healthily.

You shouldn’t have to live with these concerns forever. After all, everyone deserves a life free of worries and hardships. Your therapist will be there with you to help you understand your experiences. They’ll talk with you about your situation, your emotions about it, and conditions you might have. Then, they’ll guide you in processing everything and moving forward healthily.

Therapy prioritizes making you feel better, ensuring your well-being, and improving your quality of life. When things get tough, remember, this is all for you and your family.

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To Know How To Help A Veteran Family Member With Mental Health Conditions

War may be the most unforgiving thing in the world, especially to those who experience it firsthand. It’s no secret how it affects people, particularly those who serve on the military front lines. Every day, they face the uncertainty of their lives. They’re unsure if they’ll be coming back home alive and well. And even if they do, war leaves even deeper wounds our naked eyes can’t see.

These horrors cause high PTSD rates among veterans. Along with that, they may also have depression, anxiety, emotional instability, anger issues, substance abuse, or even suicidal thoughts. They need your help to overcome these conditions. Of course, it would be ideal for them to see a therapist. However, they’ll also need you by their side in their journey to a healthy mind and heart.

Your therapist can suggest ways to communicate with your veteran family member. Talk to them about your relationship and home situation, so they could assess how you can help your loved one. Each case is unique, and there’s no single solution to circumstances of this nature. But with therapy, you and your veteran family member can help each other move forward and heal.

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Wrapping Up

Having a family member serve in the military comes with a myriad of worries and risks. These can then cause conditions that may leave a negative impact on your mental and emotional well-being. At times, you may feel like you’re alone or that there’s no end to your despair. But remember, seeking a therapist can help you process these things and move forward to feel better.

Therapy can give you the emotional and mental support you need and deserve. It won’t be easy to talk about your struggles and concerns. But rest assured that your therapist will give their all to help you feel better. By talking to them, they’ll aid you in processing your situation and understanding your emotions. In addition, they’ll address any mental health conditions you may have.

Because of your unique situation, you’re more susceptible to concerns that could affect your well-being. Your therapist will be there beside you to help you get to the bottom of these conditions. After all, no one deserves to live a life of constant stress, worry, and anxiety. And, of course, the same goes for your veteran loved one. Therapy can help you understand how to communicate with them and help them in their journey to healing.

You’re not alone. Always remember that your therapist will be with you for every healthy step you take forward.

Counseling For PTSD

I had to let go of a friend today. I had known that woman since we were both doe-eyed freshmen in college. We were even roommates at one point and did not hate each other when it ended. When we found the love of our lives, I promised that she would become the godmother of my first child and vice versa.

What went wrong, you might ask?

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My husband, a Master’s Sergeant in the army, got diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was undoubtedly the result of many years of being in the warzone in the Middle East. I confided to my friend for moral support, but when she found out about it, she said, “I hope you will understand, but my kids would not be able to come over to your house. I am worried that your husband would run one day amok and put them in danger.”

I would give you a minute to digest those words. I found them so hurtful and insensitive when I heard them; I did not even manage to react immediately. I mean, how callous could you be if you thought that all PTSD patients were violent? Saying that would be no different from generalizing that all blondes were dumb or that all people of specific color were dangerous.

In hindsight, I could see where my now-ex friend’s worries came from. There had been news reports from time to time regarding men with PTSD who committed heinous crimes in public merely because they could not bear the external noise or the noise in their heads. Sometimes, they would get caught; other times, they would kill themselves. Such situations were genuinely problematic, but she could have at least given me the chance to inform her that my husband was in another league compared to those people. In truth, he was cooperating well with his psychiatrist and counselor to get better in no time.

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I felt the need to talk about it with my husband’s counselor on our next visit because it was an issue that my husband needed to prepare for. She told us that not everyone would understand or would be willing to understand what he or our family was going through. There could be occasions when some people might run away as soon as they heard that four-letter acronym. “Although it will undoubtedly be painful,” the counselor told my husband, “That should not make you think that you are a lost cause because you are not.”

I was beyond grateful to the counselor for saying those words. She was right – the fact that my husband was going to counseling diligently was clear proof that healing and recovery were not impossible. It was sad that people like my former friend were too easy to treat them like garbage.

If you ever come across a PTSD patient, please remember that they also need:

Respect

Post-traumatic stress disorder is not always the result of going to the battlefield for an extended period. It can also result from experiencing abuse, witnessing violence, or even dealing with a crazy natural phenomenon (e.g., earthquake, volcanic eruption, forest fire, etc.).

Whatever may have caused a person’s PTSD, though, you must always see them before their condition. For instance, my husband deserves to be praised for his service to the country instead of getting shunned due to the invisible injuries he got out of it. If you can do that, it will be effortless to treat them with respect and kindness.

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Understanding

While I stand by what I said regarding the reality that not all PTSD patients were violent, you should know that they could not always be calm and collected. Just like you and me, they may wake up on the wrong side of the bed and not feel like talking or going out all day. Other times, they may seem jumpier than usual, especially when they see or hear things that may be too triggering for them.

In such scenarios, though, all you could do is be as understanding as possible. You could coax them to eat on time, try to give them distracting objects, or talk nonstop around them. However, if all else failed, you would only have to soothe the PTSD patients with anchoring words and make them feel safe.

Support

 My husband and I develop a new agreement right after his diagnosis. Since loud noises could trigger his PTSD, we always had to do a little research about our destination and go there when there were fewer people. If we had no other choice, he would drop me off at the door, park as far as possible from the location, and wait for my text to pick me up again.

I must admit that this arrangement could sometimes be a hassle, especially when I wished we were both presents. But instead of dwelling on that, I chose to stick with the routine so that his recovery would speed up.

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Final Thoughts

My husband’s discipline allowed him to get better faster than other people. Though he had to retire from the army during his counseling for PTSD, he found another dream to focus on after that: building a family restaurant. He still felt down at times – it’s something that might never go away – but my husband learned a few coping mechanisms during counseling for PTSD that I was sure he could apply if needed in the future.

Counseling A Friend Of A Fallen Hero

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John was my high school sweetheart. Although we had a similar family background, John’s desire to become a soldier initially made me want to stay away from him. However, John eventually got me to say yes when he took the traditional route and visited me at the house often so that my mother knew that his intentions were pure.

Becoming Young Adults

John and I had a blissful summer together after our high school graduation. Of course, he started training right after driving me to the university and helping me unpack at my new apartment. He even stayed for the night, and we spent most of it cuddling because only God knew when it could happen again.

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Doing The Long Distance Thing

John got deployed to the Middle East as soon as his training ended. It was a two-year contract, and I would be lying if I said I did not feel scared for him. After all, that’s where my father passed away. I prayed every day for John’s safety.

On his part, John tried to ease my worries by calling me as often as possible. I would hear his fellow soldiers joking about him being whipped, but he bantered with them well and practically did not mind being called as such.

When two years ended, and it was time for John to come home, I was so sad that I could not pick him up at the airport. While I longed to see John, I had been busting my ass in the last two years in university because I wanted to become a counseling expert. Thus, you could imagine how shocked I was when I stepped out of the counseling classroom and saw him in the middle of the counseling hallway, holding an open jewelry box, smiling at me.

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Life After Marriage

As you might have guessed, John proposed to me that day. We could have gotten married around that time, but we decided to do it once his second deployment ended so that we could go on a month-long honeymoon.

John considered getting deployed locally so that he could take me with him, and we could build a life together. However, I also understood John’s desire to go overseas. It was dangerous, but he was only fulfilling his duty.

Counseling My Husband

Our baby was almost one year old when John managed to return home. I could not help but cry when tears flowed down his cheeks as he hugged us tightly and almost did not want to let go even during the two-hour drive home.

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Once the baby was asleep, I finally understood why John acted that way. John felt sad that his friend would no longer be able to hug his family as he did.

I would have been an awful counseling expert if I did not see the signs of PTSD in my husband early. While having breakfast, John told me that he considered getting counseling to overcome his issues. I agreed to conduct counseling for him.

I could have offered counseling at home, but John wanted to do it at couseling clinic. He booked a counseling appointment and everything, saying that it was also his chance to see me doing counseling. After some counseling sessions, John made a big decision and told me that he would retire from the army.

“I would always take pride in the years I spent in the military, but I don’t want you to see me in a casket anytime soon. I have taken business classes during my deployment anyway; I can open a restaurant next to your counseling clinic,” John said.

Best. News. Ever.

Frequently Asked Questions About EMDR And PTSD

Military veterans have gone through unimaginable life experiences to serve the country. Some of these experiences may include too much danger, which can be traumatic. 

Trauma is not new to these veterans. The mere memories of their experiences can bring utter discomfort. Simple associations about the traumatic experience can instantly relive the feelings. It may then lead to increased fear and anxiety to the point of detaching themselves, even from loved ones.

If you have a family member who’s a military veteran, observe these indicators. Often, these symptoms may indicate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is sadly common for veterans. Unfortunately, this condition can affect the overall quality of life.

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Some of the most common ways to manage PTSD include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. Additional support from loved ones and group therapy members can also help improve this condition.

But apart from these, emerging technologies like EMDR are on the rise to combat PTSD. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) seeks to reverse negative thoughts and feelings associated with a traumatic experience. 

During an EMDR session, the therapist will ask the patient to recall a traumatic event while moving their fingers side-to-side. This simple movement proves beneficial in changing how PTSD patients react to their trauma.

According to a study, EMDR is also more effective than trauma-based CBT when reducing negative associations. Because of these benefits and its growing popularity, you may be enticed to start this treatment immediately. But before you seek this option, make sure you have a reasonable understanding of EMDR.

This article aims to provide more information about EMDR as PTSD treatment. In this article, we’ve answered some FAQs about EMDR therapy.

What is EMDR trauma therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During EMDR therapy, the patient briefly and sequentially recalls distressing memories while simultaneously concentrating on an external stimulus.

It utilizes rapid and rhythmic lateral eye movement through therapist direction or other external stimuli such as audio stimulation and hand-tapping.

Can EMDR traumatize?

EMDR does not traumatize as directing the eye movements while recalling traumatic events diverts patients’ attention. However, it requires stability through its initial phases to gain an excellent emotional foundation in recalling their traumatic experiences.

What therapy is best for trauma?

There are numerous therapy techniques therapists use for addressing trauma patients. Most therapies combine different therapy techniques to resolve trauma. It may include therapy methods such as CBT, psychotherapy, EMDR, exposure therapy, and hypnotherapy.

How many sessions of EMDR do you need for PTSD?

The specific number of EMDR sessions for PTSD is around 6 to 12 sessions, delivered 1 to 2 times every week. However, some people see significant improvements in their condition, even with fewer sessions.

Can EMDR make you worse?

Since EMDR requires you to recall your trauma history, it’s not uncommon to experience discomfort while in session. However, therapists trained with providing EMDR will have the proper training in handling symptoms and side effects that may arise during the therapy.

Can EMDR cause false memories?

There are only a few reported cases of EMDR, causing false memories. It’s because, unlike talk therapy, there is little clinical input in EMDR. Thus, the process of EMDR allows the brain to make the correct internal connection while recalling traumatic events.

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Why is EMDR terrible?

EMDR is generally a safe and widely-supported therapy method. That said, as the process causes a heightened awareness of your mind, it can cause headaches and light-headedness. However, EMDR manifests lesser side effects compared to when you take prescription medications.

Can EMDR cause suicidal thoughts?

Various associations can come to the surface in the middle phases of EMDR, including suicidal ideation. These associations can get triggered during the preprocessing phase. They are generally manageable and not causes harmful effects to the patient.

Can you do EMDR on yourself?

It is possible to apply EMDR techniques and strategies in your daily life. However, you would still need an EMDR therapist to process distressing memories that surface from using EMDR techniques. They will help you develop effective coping mechanisms and resolutions to overcome your past traumas.

Is EMDR permanent?

Many studies have found evidence that patients can maintain the effects of EMDR therapy in the long term. However, it will only be possible if they are given consistent standard care after undergoing EMDR therapy.

How do you tell if you have repressed trauma?

Many studies have found evidence that patients can maintain the effects of EMDR therapy in the long term. This will only be possible if they are given consistent standard care after undergoing EMDR therapy.

Is EMDR a form of hypnosis?

No, EMDR is not a form of hypnosis or hypnotic technique. Unlike hypnosis, EMDR does not put patients in a trance-like state of consciousness. It is a visualization technique involving recalling and reprocessing traumatic memories.

Can EMDR treat ADHD?

EMDR has been studied as a treatment for ADHD with promising results. However, it still needs further research and conclusive evidence to determine its efficacy in treating the condition.

How does EMDR rewire the brain?

EMDR connects memories of traumatic events with new information and configures the brain’s dysfunctional neural networks in the process. EMDR allows the body to resolve repressed sensations and triggers by blending new emotions and thoughts into distressing memories.

What are the 8 phases of EMDR?

The eight phases of EMDR navigate through periods of past, present, and future experiences concerning traumatic experiences. Going through these phases allows a patient to resolve memories of traumatic events emotionally. Here are the eight phases of EMDR:

  1. Trauma history taking
  2. Client preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body Scan
  7. Closure
  8. Treatment progress examination

Conclusion

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Based on the answers above, EMDR is a treatment that requires the guidance of a professional. Recalling a traumatic event alone may prove to be upsetting. Allowing professionals to facilitate EMDR will ensure better success for the treatment. 

EMDR is a complicated treatment option. It means there should also be high standards for a therapist. First, consider the therapist’s credibility. Make sure to choose someone who has an EMDRIA certification.

Certified EMDR therapists are the only professionals who can use EMDR. They can simultaneously do the treatment while ensuring that anxiety attacks won’t occur. With their EMDRIA-certified, they can also address any questions or concerns about the treatment. 

It is also essential to consider the patient and therapist’s compatibility. Choose a therapist who respectful and who listens. Remember, the majority of the EMDR sessions will include sharing memories and feelings with the therapist.

Lastly, find an EMDR therapist whose treatment is within the insurance coverage. EMDR therapy is a long process that may take up to 6-12 sessions for over six weeks.

Upon finding an EMDR clinic and an understanding therapist, the journey towards peaceful living begins. With a solid support system and commitment to positive progress, it’s possible to enjoy life as a veteran. 

For the veterans, believe you can do it and trust your EMDR therapist throughout your treatment process. In time, you’ll learn to conquer your trauma and live your life to the fullest again!

 

Mental Health: PTSD Issues

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Back when I was in school, I had always been bullied for looking different. It had been very difficult for me to make friends growing up because of this, and my self-confidence was at its lowest. So, when I had the chance, I had decided to train to become an army reservist. It was a risk I was willing to take because, at the time, I had not much reason to live. It was a suicide mission for me, one that I never wanted to come back from.

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Understanding The Family Life Of A Military Man

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Being a family member of a military man seemed to be difficult especially from other people’s points of view. Knowing the life in the military, the lives of servicemen are always at risk, and staying at one place may be likely impossible to do. Nevertheless, one can still be proud of having family members like them because not all are given the chance to be of service to his countrymen.

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Mental Stability Of War Veterans (COVID-19)

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The community lockdown that is happening nowadays due to the coronavirus pandemic is a challenging time for everybody and military veterans are no exception. Who are these military veterans? A military veteran refers to an individual who has served in the military but is no longer serving at present.  Military or war veterans are those who are directly engaged in combat during a war.

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Homeless Veteran Helped During The Pandemic

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I live a block away from this shelter, and I walk past it every day on my way to work. At first, I was very scared passing through there since it was a home for the night type of thing. You will never know what type of people are there by the streets, eyeing you as you walk by, and maybe thinking all sorts of criminal acts. Yes, I am that negative. I was mugged before, and let’s just say, I have learned my lesson. Trusting is not an easy deal for me.

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